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The Happy Prince 

And Other Tales 

TBattantgne pwis 



The Happy Prince. 

The Happy Prince 

And Other Tales 


Oscar Wilde 

Illustrated by 





The Happy Prince . 

The Nightingale and the Rose 

The Selfish Giant 

The Devoted Friend . 

The Remarkable Rocket . 



The Happy Prince. 

The Happy Prince. 

LJIGH above the city, on a tall column, 
stood the statue of the Happy Prince. 
He was gilded all over with thin leaves 
of fine gold, for eyes he had two bright 
sapphires, and a large red ruby glowed on 
his sword-hilt. 

He was very much admired indeed. " He 
is as beautiful as a weathercock," remarked 
one of the Town Councillors who wished to 
gain a reputation for having artistic tastes ; 
"only not quite so useful," he added, fearing 
lest people should think him unpractical, 
which he really was not. 

The Happy Prince. 

" Why can't you be like the Happy 
Prince ? " asked a sensible mother of her little 
boy who was crying for the moon. " The 
Happy Prince never dreams of crying for 

"I am glad there is some one in the world 
who is quite happy," muttered a disappointed 
man as he gazed at the wonderful statue. 

"He looks just like an angel," said the 
Charity Children as they came out of the 
cathedral in their bright scarlet cloaks, and 
their clean white pinafores. 

"How do you know ? " said the Mathema- 
tical Master, " you have never seen one." 

" Ah ! but we have, in our dreams," 
answered the children ; and the Mathematical 
Master frowned and looked very severe, for 
he did not approve of children dreaming. 

One night there flew over the city a little 
Swallow. His friends had gone away to 
Egypt six weeks before, but he had stayed 
behind, for he was in love with the most 


The Happy Prince. 

beautiful Reed. He had met her early in the 
spring as he was flying down the river after 
a big yellow moth, and had been so attracted 
by her slender waist that he had stopped to 
talk to her. 

" Shall I love you ?" said the Swallow, who 
liked to come to the point at once, and the 
Reed made him a low bow. So he flew 
round and round her, touching the water 
with his wings, and making silver ripples. 
This was his courtship, and it lasted all 
through the summer. 

" It is a ridiculous attachment," twittered 
the other Swallows, " she has no money, 
and far too many relations ; " and indeed the 
river was quite full of Reeds. Then, when 
the autumn came, they all flew away. 

After they had gone he felt lonely, and 
began to tire of his lady-love. " She has no 
conversation/' he said, " and I am afraid that 
she is a coquette, for she is always flirting 
with the wind." And certainly, whenever the 


The Happy Prince, 

wind blew, the Reed made the most graceful 
curtsies. " I admit that she is domestic," 
he continued, "but I love travelling, and 
my wife, consequently, should love travelling 

" Will you come away with me ? " he said 
finally to her ; but the Reed shook her head, 
she was so attached to her home. 

" You have been trifling with me," he cried, 
" I am off to the Pyramids. Good-bye ! " 
and he flew away. 

All day long he flew, and at night-time he 
arrived at the city. " Where shall I put up ?" 
he said ; " I hope the town has made pre- 

Then he saw the statue on the tall column. 
" I will put up there," he cried ; " it is a fine 
position with plenty of fresh air." So he 
alighted just between the feet of the Happy 

" I have a golden bedroom," he said softly 
to himself as he looked round, and he pre- 

The Happy Prince. 

pared to go to sleep ; but just as he was putting 
his head under his wing a large drop of 
water fell on him. " What a curious thing! " 
he cried, " there is not a single cloud in the 
sky, the stars are quite clear and bright, 
and yet it is raining. The climate in the 
north of Europe is really dreadful. The 
Reed used to like the rain, but that was 
merely her selfishness." 

Then another drop fell. 

" What is the use of a statue if it cannot 
keep the rain off? " he said ; " I must look for 
a good chimney-pot," and he determined to 
fly away. 

But before he had opened his wings, a 

third drop fell, and he looked up, and saw 

Ah ! what did he see ? 

The eyes of the Happy Prince were filled 
with tears, and tears were running down his 
golden cheeks. His face was so beautiful in 
the moonlight that the little Swallow was 
filled with pity. 

The Happy Prince, 

" Who are you ? " he said. 

" I am the Happy Prince." 

" Why are you weeping then ? " asked the 
Swallow ; " you have quite drenched me." 

"When I was alive and had a human 
heart," answered the statue, " I did not know 
what tears were, for I lived in the Palace of 
Sans-Souci, where sorrow is not allowed to 
enter. In the daytime I played with my 
companions in the garden, and in the evening 
I led the dance in the Great Hall. Round 
the garden ran a very lofty wall, but I never 
cared to ask what lay beyond it, everything 
about me was so beautiful. My courtiers 
called me the Happy Prince, and happy 
indeed I was, if pleasure be happiness. So I 
lived, and so I died. And now that I am 
dead they have set me up here so high that 
I can see all the ugliness and all the misery 
of my city, and though my heart is made of 
lead yet I cannot choose but weep." 

"What, is he not solid gold?" said the 

The Happy Prince. 

Swallow to himself. He was too polite to 
make any personal remarks out loud. 

" Far away," continued the statue in a low 
musical voice, " far away in a little street 
there is a poor house. One of the windows 
is open, and through it I can see a woman 
seated at a table. Her face is thin and worn, 
and she has coarse, red hands, all pricked by 
the needle, for she is a seamstress. She is 
embroidering passion-flowers on a satin gown 
for the loveliest of the Queen's maids-of- 
honour to wear at the next Court-ball. In a 
bed in the corner of the room her little boy is 
lying ill. He has a fever, and is asking for 
oranges. His mother has nothing to give 
him but river water, so he is crying. Swallow, 
Swallow, little Swallow, will you not bring her 
the ruby out of my sword-hilt ? My feet 
are fastened to this pedestal and I cannot 

" I am waited for in Egypt," said the 
Swallow. " My friends are flying up and 

9 c 

The Happy Prince. 

down the Nile, and talking to the large lotus- 
flowers. Soon they will go to sleep in the 
tomb of the great King. The King is there 
himself in his painted coffin. He is wrapped 
in yellow linen, and embalmed with spices. 
Round his neck is a chain of pale green 
jade, and his hands are like withered leaves." 

" Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said 
the Prince, " will you not stay with me for 
one night, and be my messenger ? The boy 
is so thirsty, and the mother so sad." 

11 I don't think I like boys," answered the 
Swallow. " Last summer, when I was staying 
on the river, there were two rude boys, the 
miller's sons, who were always throwing 
stones at me. They never hit me, of course; 
we swallows fly far too well for that, and 
besides, I come of a family famous for its 
agility ; but still, it was a mark of dis- 

But the Happy Prince looked so sad that 
the little Swallow was sorry. " It is very 


The Happy Prince. 

cold here," he said ; "but I will stay with you 
for one night, and be your messenger." 

"Thank you,little Swallow," said the Prince. 

So the Swallow picked out the great ruby 
from the Prince's sword, and flew away with 
it in his beak over the roofs of the town. 

He passed by the cathedral tower, where 
the white marble angels were sculptured. 
He passed by the palace and heard the 
sound of dancing. A beautiful girl came out 
on the balcony with her lover. " How won- 
derful the stars are," he said to her, "and 
how wonderful is the power of love!" "I 
hope my dress will be ready in time for the 
State-ball," she answered ; " I have ordered 
passion-flowers to be embroidered on it ; but 
the seamstresses are so lazy." 

He passed over the river, and saw the 
lanterns hanging to the masts of the ships. 
He passed over the Ghetto, and saw the old 
Jews bargaining with each other, and weigh- 
ing out money in copper scales. At last he 


The Happy Prince. 

came to the poor house and looked in. The 
boy was tossing feverishly on his bed, and the 
mother had fallen asleep, she was so tired. 
In he hopped, and laid the great ruby on the 
table beside the woman's thimble. Then he 
flew gently round the bed, fanning the boy's 
forehead with his wings. "How cool I feel," 
said the boy, " I must be getting better; " 
and he sank into a delicious slumber. 

Then the Swallow flew back to the Happy 
Prince, and told him what he had done. " It 
is curious," he remarked, " but I feel quite 
warm now, although it is so cold." 

" That is because you have done a good 
action/' said the Prince. And the little 
Swallow began to think, and then he fell 
asleep. Thinking always made him sleepy. 

When day broke he flew down to the river 
and had a bath. " What a remarkable phe- 
nomenon," said the Professor of Ornithology 
as he was passing over the bridge. "A 
swallow in winter ! " And he wrote a long 


The Happy Prince. 

letter about it to the local newspaper. 
Every one quoted it, it was full of so many 
words that they could not understand. 

" To-night I go to Egypt," said the 
Swallow, and he was in high spirits at the 
prospect. He visited all the public monu- 
ments, and sat a long time on top of the 
church steeple. Wherever he went the 
Sparrows chirruped, and said to each other, 
"What a distinguished stranger!" so he en- 
joyed himself very much. 

When the moon rose he flew back to the 
Happy Prince. " Have you any commissions 
for Egypt ? " he cried ; "lam just starting." 

" Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said 
the Prince, " will you not stay with me one 
night longer ? " 

" I am waited for in Egypt," answered the 
Swallow. " To-morrow my friends will fly 
up to the Second Cataract. The river-horse 
couches there among the bulrushes, and on 
a great granite throne sits the God Memnon. 


The Happy Prince. 

All night long he watches the stars, and when 
the morning star shines he utters one cry of 
joy, and then he is silent. At noon the 
yellow lions come down to the water's edge 
to drink. They have eyes like green beryls, 
and their roar is louder than the roar of the 

" Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said 
the Prince, "far away across the city I see 
a young man in a garret. He is leaning 
over a desk covered with papers, and in a 
tumbler by his side there is a bunch of 
withered violets. His hair is brown and 
crisp, and his lips are red as a pomegranate, 
and he has large and dreamy eyes. He is 
trying to finish a play for the Director of the 
Theatre, but he is too cold to write any more. 
There is no fire in the grate, and hunger 
has made him faint." 

" I will wait with you one night longer," 
said the Swallow, who really had a good 
heart. " Shall I take him another ruby ? " 


The Happy Prince. 

"Alas! I have no ruby now," said the 
Prince ; " my eyes are all that I have left. 
They are made of rare sapphires, which 
were brought out of India a thousand years 
ago. Pluck out one of them and take it to 
him. He will sell it to the jeweller, and buy 
food and firewood, and finish his play." 

"Dear Prince," said the Swallow, " I can- 
not do that ; " and he began to weep. 

"Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said 
the Prince, " do as I command you." 

So the Swallow plucked out the Prince's 
eye, and flew away to the student's garret. 
It was easy enough to get in, as there was 
a hole in the roof. Through this he darted, 
and came into the room. The young man 
had his head buried in his hands, so he did 
not hear the flutter of the bird's wings, and 
when he looked up he found the beautiful 
sapphire lying on the withered violets. 

" I am beginning to be appreciated," he 
cried ; " this is from some great admirer. 


The Happy Prince. 

Now I can finish my play," and he looked 
quite happy. 

The next day the Swallow flew down to 
the harbour. He sat on the mast of a large 
vessel and watched the sailors hauling big 
chests out of the hold with ropes. " Heave 
a-hoy ! " they shouted as each chest came 
up. " I am going to Egypt!" cried the 
Swallow, but nobody minded, and when the 
moon rose he flew back to the Happy 

" I am come to bid you good-bye," he 

" Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said 
the Prince, " will you not stay with me one 
night longer ? " 

"It is winter," answered the Swallow, 
"and the chill snow will soon be here. 
In Egypt the sun is warm on the green 
palm-trees, and the crocodiles lie in the mud 
and look lazily about them. My com- 
panions are building a nest in the Temple 


The Happy Prince. 

of Baalbec, and the pink and white doves 
are watching them, and cooing to each other. 
Dear Prince, I must leave you, but I will never 
forget you, and next spring I will bring you 
back two beautiful jewels in place of those 
you have given away. The ruby shall be 
redder than a red rose, and the sapphire shall 
be as blue as the great sea." 

" In the square below," said the Happy 
Prince, " there stands a little match-girl. She 
has let her matches fall in the gutter, and 
they are all spoiled. Her father will beat her 
if she does not bring home some money, and 
she is crying. She has no shoes or stockings, 
and her little head is bare. Pluck out my 
other eye, and give it to her, and her father 
will not beat her." 

" I will stay with you one night longer," 
said the Swallow, "but I cannot pluck out 
your eye. You would be quite blind then." 

" Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow," said 

the Prince, " do as I command you." 

17 D 

The Happy Prince. 

So he plucked out the Prince's other eye, 
and darted down with it. He swooped past 
the match -girl, and slipped the jewel into the 
palm of her hand. "What a lovely bit of 
glass," cried the little girl ; and she ran home, 

Then the Swallow came back to the Prince. 
"You are blind now," he said, "so I will 
stay with you always." 

" No, little Swallow," said the poor Prince, 
" you must go away to Egypt." 

" I will stay with you always," said the 
Swallow, and he slept at the Prince's feet. 

All the next day he sat on the Prince's 
shoulder, and told him stories of what he 
had seen in strange lands. He told him of 
the red ibises, who stand in long rows on 
the banks of the Nile, and catch gold fish in 
their beaks ; of the Sphinx, who is as old 
as the world itself, and lives in the desert, 
and knows everything; of the merchants, 
who walk slowly by the side of their camels, 


The Happy Prince. 

and carry amber beads in their hands ; of the 
King of the Mountains of the Moon, who is as 
black as ebony, and worships a large crystal ; 
of the great green snake that sleeps in a 
palm-tree, and has twenty priests to feed it 
with honey-cakes ; and of the pygmies who 
sail over a big lake on large flat leaves, and 
are always at war with the butterflies. 

" Dear little Swallow," said the Prince, " you 
tell me of marvellous things, but more marvel- 
lous than anything is the suffering of men 
and of women. There is no Mystery so great 
as Misery. Fly over my city, little Swallow, 
and tell me what you see there." 

So the Swallow flew over the great city, and 
saw the rich making merry in their beautiful 
houses, while the beggars were sitting at 
the gates. He flew into dark lanes, and saw 
the white faces of starving children looking 
out listlessly at the black streets. Under the 
archway of a bridge two little boys were 
lying in one another's arms to try and keep 


The Happy Prince, 

themselves warm. " How hungry we are ! " 
they said. " You must not lie here," shouted 
the Watchman, and they wandered out into 
the rain. 

Then he flew back and told the Prince 
what he had seen. 

" I am covered with fine gold," said the 
Prince, " you must take it off, leaf by leaf, 
and give it to my poor ; the living always 
think that gold can make them happy." 

Leaf after leaf of the fine gold the Swallow 
picked off, till the Happy Prince looked quite 
dull and grey. Leaf after leaf of the fine 
gold he brought to the poor, and the chil- 
dren's faces grew rosier, and they laughed and 
played games in the street. " We have bread 
now ! " they cried. 

Then the snow came, and after the snow 

came the frost. The streets looked as if they 

were made of silver, they were so bright and 

glistening; long icicles like crystal daggers 

hung down from the eaves of the houses, 


The Happy Prince. 

everybody went about in furs, and the little 
boys wore scarlet caps and skated on the 

The poor little Swallow grew colder and 
colder, but he would not leave the Prince, he 
loved him too well. He picked up crumbs 
outside the baker's door when the baker was 
not looking, and tried to keep himself warm 
by flapping his wings. 

But at last he knew that he was going to 
die. He had just strength to fly up to the 
Prince's shoulder once more. " Good-bye, 
dear Prince!" he murmured, "will you let 
me kiss your hand ? " 

" I am glad that you are going to Egypt 
at last, little Swallow," said the Prince, " you 
have stayed too long here ; but you must 
kiss me on the lips, for I love you." 

" It is not to Egypt that I am going," said 
the Swallow. " I am going to the House of 
Death. Death is the brother of Sleep, is he 


The Happy Prince. 

And he kissed the Happy Prince on the 
lips, and fell down dead at his feet. 

At that moment a curious crack sounded 
inside the statue, as if something had broken. 
The fact is that the leaden heart had 
snapped right in two. It certainly was a 
dreadfully hard frost. 

Early the next morning the Mayor was 
walking in the square below in company with 
the Town Councillors. As they passed the 
column he looked up at the statue: "Dear 
me ! how shabby the Happy Prince looks ! " 
he said. 

" How shabby indeed ! " cried the Town 
Councillors, who always agreed with the 
Mayor, and they went up to look at it. 

" The ruby has fallen out of his sword, his 
eyes are gone, and he is golden no longer," 
said the Mayor; "in fact, he is little better 
than a beggar!" 

" Little better than a beggar," said the 
Town Councillors. 


The Happy Prince. 

"And here is actually a dead bird at his 
feet!" continued the Mayor. "We must 
really issue a proclamation that birds are not 
to be allowed to die here." And the Town 
Clerk made a note of the suggestion. 

So they pulled down the statue of the 
Happy Prince. " As he is no longer beau- 
tiful he is no longer useful," said the Art 
Professor at the University. 

Then they melted the statue in a furnace, 
and the Mayor held a meeting of the Corpo- 
ration to decide what was to be done with the 
metal. " We must have another statue, of 
course," he said, " and it shall be a statue of 

"Of myself," said each of the Town 
Councillors, and they quarrelled. When I 
last heard of them they were quarrelling still. 

" What a strange thing ! " said the overseer 
of the workmen at the foundry. " This broken 
lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We 
must throw it away." So they threw it on a 


The Happy Prince. 

dust-heap where the dead Swallow was also 

" Bring me the two most precious things 
in the city," said God to one of His Angels ; 
and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart 
and the dead bird. 

" You have rightly chosen," said God, "for 
in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall 
sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the 
Happy Prince shall praise me." 


The Nightingale and the 


The Nightingale and the Rose, 

"CHE said that she would dance with me 
if I brought her red roses," cried the 
young Student ; "but in all my garden there 
is no red rose." 

From her nest in the holm-oak tree the 
Nightingale heard him, and she looked out 
through the leaves, and wondered. 

" No red rose in all my garden!" 

he cried, and his beautiful eyes filled with 

tears. "Ah, on what little things does 

happiness depend ! I have read all that 

the wise men have written, and all the 

secrets of philosophy are mine, yet for 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

want of a red rose is my life made 

" Here at last is a true lover," said the 
Nightingale. " Night after night have I sung 
of him, though I knew him not : night after 
night have I told his story to the stars, and 
now I see him. His hair is dark as the 
hyacinth-blossom, and his lips are red as 
the rose of his desire ; but passion has made 
his face like pale ivory, and sorrow has set 
her seal upon his brow." 

" The Prince gives a ball to-morrow night," 

murmured the young Student, " and my love 

will be of the company. If I bring her a red 

rose she will dance with me till dawn. If 

I bring her a red rose, I shall hold her in 

my arms, and she will lean her head upon 

my shoulder, and her hand will be clasped 

in mine. But there is no red rose in my 

garden, so I shall sit lonely, and she will 

pass me by. She will have no heed of me, 

and my heart will break." 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

" Here indeed is the true lover," said the 
Nightingale. " What I sing of, he suffers : 
what is joy to me, to hiin is pain. Surely 
Love is a wonderful thing. It is more pre- 
cious than emeralds, and dearer than fine 
opals. Pearls and pomegranates cannot buy 
it, nor is it set forth in the market-place. It 
may not be purchased of the merchants, nor 
can it be weighed out in the balance for 

" The musicians will sit in their gallery," 

said the young Student, "and play upon their 

stringed instruments, and my love will dance 

to the sound of the harp and the violin. She 

will dance so lightly that her feet will not 

touch the floor, and the courtiers in their gay 

dresses will throng round her. But with me 

she will not dance, for I have no red rose to 

give her ; " and he flung himself down on the 

grass, and buried his face in his hands, and 


" Why is he weeping?" asked a little Green 

The Nightingale and the Rose. 

Lizard, as he ran past him with his tail in the 

" Why, indeed ? " said a Butterfly, who was 
fluttering about after a sunbeam. 

" Why, indeed ? " whispered a Daisy to his 
neighbour, in a soft, low voice. 

" He is weeping for a red rose," said the 

" For a red rose ! " they cried ; " how very 
ridiculous!" and the little Lizard, who was 
something of a cynic, laughed outright. 

But the Nightingale understood the secret 
of the Student's sorrow, and she sat silent 
in the oak-tree, and thought about the 
mystery of Love. 

Suddenly she spread her brown wings for 
flight, and soared into the air. She passed 
through the grove like a shadow, and like 
a shadow she sailed across the garden. 

In the centre of the grass-plot was standing 
a beautiful Rose-tree, and when she saw it, 
she flew over to it, and lit upon a spray. 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

" Give me a red rose," she cried, " and I 
will sing you my sweetest song." 

But the Tree shook its head. 

"My roses are white," it answered; " as 
white as the foam of the sea, and whiter than 
the snow upon the mountain. But go to my 
brother who grows round the old sun-dial, and 
perhaps he will give you what you want." 

So the Nightingale flew over to the Rose- 
tree that was growing round the old sun-dial. 

" Give me a red rose," she cried, "and I 
will sing you my sweetest song." 

But the Tree shook its head. 

" My roses are yellow," it answered ; "as 
yellow as the hair of the mermaiden who 
sits upon an amber throne, and yellower 
than the daffodil that blooms in the meadow 
before the mower comes with his scythe. 
But go to my brother who grows beneath 
the Student's window, and perhaps he will 
give you what you want." 

So the Nightingale flew over to the Rose- 

The Nightingale and the Rose. 

tree that was growing beneath the Student's 

"Give me a red rose," she cried, "and I 
will sing you my sweetest song." 

But the Tree shook its head. 

" My roses are red," it answered, " as red as 
the feet of the dove, and redder than the great 
fans of coral that wave and wave in the 
ocean-cavern. But the winter has chilled my 
veins, and the frost has nipped my buds, and 
the storm has broken my branches, and I 
shall have no roses at all this year." 

" One red rose is all I want," cried the 
Nightingale, "only one red rose ! Is there no 
way by which I can get it ? " 

"There is away," answered the Tree; "but 
it is so terrible that I dare not tell it to you." 

" Tell it to me," said the Nightingale, " I 
am not afraid." 

"If you want a red rose," said the Tree, 
" you must build it out of music by moonlight, 
and stain it with your own heart's-blood. 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

You must sing to me with your breast against 
a thorn. All night long you must sing to 
me, and the thorn must pierce your heart, 
and your life-blood must flow into my veins, 
and become mine." 

" Death is a great price to pay for a red 
rose," cried the Nightingale, "and Life is very 
dear to all. It is pleasant to sit in the green 
wood, and to watch the Sun in his chariot of 
gold, and the Moon in her chariot of pearl. 
Sweet is the scent of the hawthorn, and sweet 
are the bluebells that hide in the valley, and 
the heather that blows on the hill. Yet Love 
is better than Life, and what is the heart of 
a bird compared to the heart of a man ? " 

So she spread her brown wings for flight, 
and soared into the air. She swept over the 
garden like a shadow, and like a shadow she 
sailed through the grove. 

The young Student was still lying on the 
grass, where she had left him, and the tears 
were not yet dry in his beautiful eyes. 

33 F 

The Nightingale and the Rose. 

"Be happy," cried the Nightingale, "be 
happy ; you shall have your red rose. I will 
build it out of music by moonlight, and stain 
it with my own heart's-blood. All that I 
ask of you in return is that you will be a 
true lover, for Love is wiser than Philosophy, 
though she is wise, and mightier than Power, 
though he is mighty. Flame-coloured are 
his wings, and coloured like flame is his 
body. His lips are sweet as honey, and his 
breath is like frankincense." 

The Student looked up from the grass, 
and listened, but he could not understand 
what the Nightingale was saying to him, for 
he only knew the things that are written 
down in books. 

But the Oak-tree understood, and felt sad, 
for he was very fond of the little Nightingale 
who had built her nest in his branches. 

"Sing me one last song," he whispered; 
" I shall feel very lonely when you are 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

So the Nightingale sang to the Oak-tree, 
and her voice was like water bubbling from 
a silver jar. 

When she had finished her song the 
Student got up, and pulled a note-book and 
a lead-pencil out of his pocket. 

"She has form," he said to himself, as he 
walked away through the grove — "that can- 
not be denied to her ; but has she got feeling ? 
I am afraid not. In fact, she is like most 
artists ; she is all style, without any sincerity. 
She would not sacrifice herself for others. 
She thinks merely of music, and everybody 
knows that the arts are selfish. Still, it 
must be admitted that she has some beau- 
tiful notes in her voice. What a pity it is 
that they do not mean anything, or do any 
practical good." And he went into his room, 
and lay down on his little pallet-bed, and 
began to think of his love ; and, after a time, 
he fell asleep. 

And when the Moon shone in the heavens 

The Nightingale and the Rose. 

the Nightingale flew to the Rose-tree, and set 
her breast against the thorn. All night 
long she sang with her breast against the 
thorn, and the cold crystal Moon leaned 
down and listened. All night long she 
sang, and the thorn went deeper and deeper 
into her breast, and her life-blood ebbed 
away from her. 

She sang first of the birth of love in the 
heart of a boy and a girl. And on the top- 
most spray of the Rose-tree there blossomed 
a marvellous rose, petal following petal, as 
song followed song. Pale was it, at first, 
as the mist that hangs over the river — pale as 
the feet of the morning, and silver as the 
win^s of the dawn. As the shadow of a 
rose in a mirror of silver, as the shadow of 
a rose in a water-pool, so was the rose that 
blossomed on the topmost spray of the Tree. 

But the Tree cried to the Nightingale 

to press closer against the thorn. " Press 

closer, little Nightingale," cried the Tree, 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

"or the Day will come before the rose is 

So the Nightingale pressed closer against 
the thorn, and louder and louder grew her 
song, for she sang of the birth of passion in 
the soul of a man and a maid. 

And a delicate flush of pink came into 
the leaves of the rose, like the flush in the 
face of the bridegroom when he kisses the 
lips of the bride. But the thorn had not 
yet reached her heart, so the rose's heart 
remained white, for only a Nightingale's 
heart's-blood can crimson the heart of a 

And the Tree cried to the Nightingale to 
press closer against the thorn. " Press closer, 
little Nightingale," cried the Tree, "or the 
Day will come before the rose is finished." 

So the Nightingale pressed closer against 
the thorn, and the thorn touched her heart, 
and a fierce pang of pain shot through her. 
Bitter, bitter was the pain, and wilder and 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

wilder grew her song, for she sang of the 
Love that is perfected by Death, of the Love 
that dies not in the tomb. 

And the marvellous rose became crimson, 
like the rose of the eastern sky. Crimson 
was the girdle of petals, and crimson as a 
ruby was the heart. 

But the Nightingale's voice grew fainter, 
and her little wings began to beat, and a film 
came over her eyes. Fainter and fainter grew 
her song, and she felt something choking 
her in her throat. 

Then she gave one last burst of music. 
The white Moon heard it, and she forgot 
the dawn, and lingered on in the sky. The 
red rose heard it, and it trembled all over 
with ecstasy, and opened its petals to the 
cold morning air. Echo bore it to her 
purple cavern in the hills, and woke the 
sleeping shepherds from their dreams. It 
floated through the reeds of the river, and 
they carried its message to the sea. 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

" Look, look!" cried the Tree, "the rose 
is finished now ; " but the Nightingale made 
no answer, for she was lying dead in the 
long grass, with the thorn in her heart. 

And at noon the Student opened his 
window and looked out. 

"Why, what a wonderful piece of luck!" 
he cried ; " here is a red rose ! I have never 
seen any rose like it in all my life. It is so 
beautiful that I am sure it has a long Latin 
name ; " and he leaned down and plucked it. 

Then he put on his hat, and ran up to the 
Professor's house with the rose in his hand. 

The daughter of the Professor was sitting: 
in the doorway winding blue silk on a reel, 
and her little dog was lying at her feet. 

"You said that you would dance with me 
if I brought you a red rose," cried the 
Student. " Here is the reddest rose in all 
the world. You will wear it to-night next 
your heart, and as we dance together it will 
tell you how I love you." 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

But the girl frowned. 

"I am afraid it will not go with my dress," 
she answered ; " and, besides, the Chamber- 
lain's nephew has sent me some real jewels, 
and everybody knows that jewels cost far 
more than flowers." 

"Well, upon my word, you are very un- 
grateful," said the Student angrily ; and he 
threw the rose into the street, where it fell 
into the gutter, and a cart-wheel went 
over it. 

" Ungrateful ! " said the girl. " I tell you 
what, you are very rude ; and, after all, who 
are you ? Only a Student. Why, I don't 
believe you have even got silver buckles to 
your shoes as the Chamberlain's nephew 
has;" and she got up from her chair and 
went into the house. 

"What a silly thing Love is," said the 
Student as he walked away. " It is not half 
as useful as Logic, for it does not prove any- 
thing, and it is always telling one of things 


The Nightingale and the Rose. 

that are not going to happen, and making one 
believe things that are not true. In fact, it 
is quite unpractical, and, as in this age to 
be practical is everything, I shall go back to 
Philosophy and study Metaphysics." 

So he returned to his room and pulled out 
a great dusty book, and began to read. 


The Selfish Giant. 

The Selfish Giant. 

The Selfish Giant. 

"C^VERY afternoon, as they were coming 
from school, the children used to go and 
play in the Giants garden. 

It was a large lovely garden, with soft green 
grass. Here and there over the grass stood 
beautiful flowers like stars, and there were 
twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time 
broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and 
pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The 
birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly 
that the children used to stop their games in 
order to listen to them. " How happy we 
are here ! " they cried to each other. 


The Selfish Giant. 

One day the Giant came back. He had 
been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and 
had stayed with him for seven years. After 
the seven years were over he had said all 
that he had to say, for his conversation was 
limited, and he determined to return to his 
own castle. When he arrived he saw the 
children playing in the garden. 

" What are you doing there ? " he cried in 
a very gruff voice, and the children ran away. 

" My own garden is my own garden," said 
the Giant ; "any one can understand that, and 
I will allow nobody to play in it but myself." 
So he built a high wall all round it, and put 
up a notice-board. 



He was a very selfish Giant. 

The poor children had now nowhere to 


The Selfish Giant. 

play. They tried to play on the road, but 
the road was very dusty and full of hard 
stones, and they did not like it. They used 
to wander round the hi^h wall when their 
lessons were over, and talk about the beau- 
tiful garden inside. "How happy we were 
there," they said to each other. 

Then the Spring came, and all over the 
country there were little blossoms and little 
birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish 
Giant it was still winter. The birds did not 
care to sing in it as there were no children, 
and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a 
beautiful flower put its head out from the 
grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was 
so sorry for the children that it slipped back 
into the ground again, and went off to sleep. 
The only people who were pleased were the 
Snow and the Frost. "Spring has forgotten 
this garden," they cried, "so we will live here 
all the year round." The Snow covered up 
the grass with her great white cloak, and the 


The Selfish Giant. 

Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they 
invited the North Wind to stay with them, 
and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and 
he roared all day about the garden, and blew 
the chimney-pots down. " This is a delight- 
ful spot," he said, "we must ask the Hail 
on a visit." So the Hail came. Every day 
for three hours he rattled on the roof of the 
castle till he broke most of the slates, and 
then he ran round and round the garden 
as fast as he could go. He was dressed in 
grey, and his breath was like ice. 

" I cannot understand why the Spring is so 
late in coming," said the Selfish Giant, as he 
sat at the window and looked out at his cold 
white garden ; " I hope there will be a change 
in the weather." 

But the Spring never came, nor the 
Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to 
every garden, but to the Giant s garden she 
gave none. " He is too selfish," she said. 

So it was always Winter there, and the North 


The Selfish Giant. 

Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the 
Snow danced about through the trees. 

One morning the Giant was lying awake 
in bed when he heard some lovely music. It 
sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought 
it must be the King's musicians passing by. 
It was really only a little linnet singing out- 
side his window, but it was so long since he 
had heard a bird sing in his garden that it 
seemed to him to be the most beautiful music 
in the world. Then the Hail stopped 
dancing over his head, and the North Wind 
ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came 
to him through the open casement. " I 
believe the Spring has come at last," said 
the Giant ; and he jumped out of bed and 
looked out. 

What did he see ? 

He saw a most wonderful sight. Through 
a little hole in the wall the children had 
crept in, and they were sitting in the branches 
of the trees. In every tree that he could 

49 K 

The Selfish Giant. 

see there was a little child. And the trees 
were so glad to have the children back again 
that they had covered themselves with 
blossoms, and were waving their arms 
gently above the children's heads. The. birds 
were flying about and twittering with delight, 
and the flowers were looking up through the 
green grass and laughing. It was a lovely 
scene, only in one corner it was still winter. 
It was the farthest corner of the garden, and 
in it was standing a little boy. He was so 
small that he could not reach up to the 
branches of the tree, and he was wandering 
all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree 
was still quite covered with frost and 
snow, and the North Wind was blowing 
and roaring above it. " Climb up ! little 
boy," said the Tree, and it bent its branches 
down as low as it could ; but the boy was 
too tiny. 

And the Giant's heart melted as he looked 
out. " How selfish I have been ! " he said j 


The Selfish Giant. 

"now I know why the Spring would not 
come here. I will put that poor little boy on 
the top of the tree, and then I will knock 
down the wall, and my garden shall be the 
children's playground for ever and ever." 
He was really very sorry for what he had 

So he crept downstairs and opened the 
front door quite softly, and went out into the 
garden. But when the children saw him they 
were so frightened that they all ran away, 
and the garden became winter again. Only 
the little boy did not run, for his eyes were 
so full of tears that he did not see the Giant 
coming. And the Giant stole up behind him 
and took him gently in his hand, and put him 
up into the tree. And the tree broke at once 
into blossom, and the birds came and sang on 
it, and the little boy stretched out his two 
arms and flung them round the Giant's neck, 
and kissed him. And the other children, 
when they saw that the Giant was not wicked 


The Selfish Giant. 

any longer, came running back, and with 
them came the Spring. " It is your garden 
now, little children," said the Giant, and he 
took a great axe and knocked down the wall. 
And when the people were going to market 
at twelve o'clock they found the Giant playing 
with the children in the most beautiful garden 
they had ever seen. 

All day long they played, and in the 
evening they came to the Giant to bid him 

" But where is your little companion ? " he 
said : " the boy I put into the tree." The 
Giant loved him the best because he had 
kissed him. 

" We don't know," answered the children ; 
" he has gone away." 

" You must tell him to be sure and come 
here to-morrow," said the Giant. But the 
children said that they did not know where 
he lived, and had never seen him before; 
and the Giant felt very sad. 


The Selfish Giant. 

Every afternoon, when school was over, the 
children came and played with the Giant. 
But the little boy whom the Giant loved 
was never seen again. The Giant was very 
kind to all the children, yet he longed for his 
first little friend, and often spoke of him. 
" How I would like to see him ! " he used to 

Years went over, and the Giant grew 
very old and feeble. He could not play 
about any more, so he sat in a huge 
armchair, and watched the children at 
their games, and admired his garden. " I 
have many beautiful flowers," he said ; " but 
the children are the most beautiful flowers 
of all." 

One winter morning he looked out of his 
window as he was dressing. He did not 
hate the Winter now, for he knew that it 
was merely the Spring asleep, and that the 
flowers were resting. 

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, 

The Selfish Giant. 

and looked and looked. It certainly was a 
marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of 
the garden was a tree quite covered with 
lovely white blossoms. Its branches were 
all golden, and silver fruit hung down from 
them, and underneath it stood the little boy 
he had loved. 

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and 
out into the garden. He hastened across 
the grass, and came near to the child. And 
when he came quite close his face grew 
red with anger, and he said, " Who hath 
dared to wound thee ? " For on the palms of 
the child's hands were the prints of two 
nails, and the prints of two nails were on the 
little feet. 

" Who hath dared to wound thee ? " cried 
the Giant ; " tell me, that I may take my big 
sword and slay him," 

" Nay ! " answered the child ; " but these 
are the wounds of Love." 

" Who art thou ? " said the Giant, and a 


The Selfish Giant. 

strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before 
the little child. 

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said 
to him, " You let me play once in your 
garden, to-day you shall come with me to my 
garden, which is Paradise." 

And when the children ran in that after- 
noon, they found the Giant lying dead under 
the tree, all covered with white blossoms. 


The Devoted Friend 


The Devoted Friend. 

/^\NE morning the old Water-rat put 
his head out of his hole. He had 
bright beady eyes and stiff grey whiskers, 
and his tail was like a long bit of black 
india-rubber. The little ducks were swim- 
ming about in the pond, looking just like a 
lot of yellow canaries, and their mother, who 
was pure white with real red legs, was 
trying to teach them how to stand on their 
heads in the water. 

"You will never be in the best society 
unless you can stand on your heads," she 
kept saying to them ; and every now and 


The Devoted Friend. 

then she showed them how it was done. 
But the little ducks paid no attention to her. 
They were so young that they did not know 
what an advantage it is to be in society at all. 

" What disobedient children ! " cried the 
old Water-rat; "they really deserve to be 

" Nothing of the kind," answered the 
Duck, "every one must make a beginning, 
and parents cannot be too patient." 

"Ah! I know nothing about the feelings 
of parents," said the Water-rat ; " I am not 
a family man. In fact, I have never been 
married, and I never intend to be. Love is 
all very well in its way, but friendship is 
much higher. Indeed, I know of nothing in 
the world that is either nobler or rarer than 
a devoted friendship." 

" And what, pray, is your idea of the 

duties of a devoted friend ? " asked a Green 

Linnet, who was sitting in a willow-tree hard 

bv, and had overheard the conversation. 

The Devoted Friend. 

"Yes, that is just what I want to know," 
said the Duck, and she swam away to the 
end of the pond, and stood upon her head, 
in order to give her children a good 

" What a silly question ! " cried the Water- 
rat. " I should expect my devoted friend to 
be devoted to me, of course." 

"And what would you do in return?" 
said the little bird, swinging upon a silver 
spray, and flapping his tiny wings. 

" I don't understand you," answered the 

" Let me tell you a story on the subject," 
said the Linnet. 

" Is the story about me?" asked the 
Water-rat. " If so, I will listen to it, for I 
am extremely fond of fiction." 

"It is applicable to you," answered the 

Linnet ; and he flew down, and alighting 

upon the bank, he told the story of The 

Devoted Friend. 


The Devoted Friend. 

" Once upon a time," said the Linnet, 
" there was an honest little fellow named 

"Was he very distinguished?" asked the 

" No," answered the Linnet, " I don't think 
he was distinguished at all, except for his 
kind heart, and his funny round good- 
humoured face. He lived in a tiny cottage 
all by himself, and every day he worked in 
his garden. In all the country-side there 
was no garden so lovely as his. Sweet- 
william grew there, and Gilly-flowers, and 
Shepherds'-purses, and Fair-maids of France. 
There were damask Roses, and yellow Roses, 
lilac Crocuses, and gold, purple Violets and 
white. Columbine and Ladysmock, Marjoram 
and Wild Basil, the Cowslip and the Flower- 
de-luce, the Daffodil and the Clove-Pink 
bloomed or blossomed in their proper order 
as the months went by, one flower taking 

another flower's place, so that there were 


The Devoted Friend. 

always beautiful things to look at, and 
pleasant odours to smell. 

"Little Hans had a great many friends, but 
the most devoted friend of all was big Hugh 
the Miller. Indeed, so devoted was the rich 
Miller to little Hans, that he would never go 
by his garden without leaning over the wall 
and plucking a large nosegay, or a handful 
of sweet herbs, or filling his pockets with 
plums and cherries if it was the fruit season. 

" ' Real friends should have everything in 
common,' the Miller used to say, and little 
Hans nodded and smiled, and felt very proud 
of having a friend with such noble ideas. 

" Sometimes, indeed, the neighbours thought 
it strange that the rich Miller never gave little 
Hans anything in return, though he had a 
hundred sacks of flour stored away in his 
mill, and six milch cows, and a large flock of 
woolly sheep ; but Hans never troubled his 
head about these things, and nothing gave 
him greater pleasure than to listen to all the 


The Devoted Friend. 

wonderful things the Miller used to say about 
the unselfishness of true friendship. 

" So little Hans worked away in his 
garden. During the spring, the summer, 
and the autumn he was very happy, but 
when the winter came, and he had no fruit 
or flowers to bring to the market, he suffered 
a good deal from cold and hunger, and often 
had to go to bed without any supper but a 
few dried pears or some hard nuts. In the 
winter, also, he was extremely lonely, as the 
Miller never came to see him then. 

" ' There is no good in my going to see little 
Hans as long as the snow lasts,' the Miller 
used to say to his wife, ■ for when people are 
in trouble they should be left alone, and not 
be bothered by visitors. That at least is my 
idea about friendship, and I am sure I am 
right. So I shall wait till the spring comes, 
and then I shall pay him a visit, and he will 
be able to give me a large basket of primroses, 
and that will make him so happy.' 


The Devoted Friend. 

u ' You are certainly very thoughtful about 
others,' answered the Wife, as she sat in her 
comfortable armchair by the big pinewoocl 
fire ; 'very thoughtful indeed. It is quite a 
treat to hear you talk about friendship. I 
am sure the clergyman himself could not 
say such beautiful things as you do, though 
he does live in a three-storied house, and 
wear a gold ring on his little finger.' 

" ' Bat could we not ask little Hans up 
here ? ' said the Miller's youngest son. ' If 
poor Hans is in trouble I will give him half my 
porridge, and show him my white rabbits.' 

" ' What a silly boy you are ! ' cried the 
Miller ; ' I really don't know what is the 
use of sending you to school. You seem 
not to learn anything. Why, if little Hans 
came up here, and saw our warm fire, and 
our good supper, and our great cask of red 
wine, he might get envious, and envy is a 
most terrible thing, and would spoil any- 
body's nature. I certainly will not allow 

65 k 

The Devoted Friend. 

Hans's nature to be spoiled. I am his best 
friend, and I will always watch over him, 
and see that he is not led into any tempta- 
tions. Besides, if Hans came here, he might 
ask me to let him have some flour on 
credit, and that I could not do. Flour is one 
thing, and friendship is another, and they 
should not be confused. Why, the words are 
spelt differently, and mean quite different 
things. Everybody can see that' 

" c How well you talk!' said the Miller's 
Wife, pouring herself out a large glass of 
warm ale ; * really I feel quite drowsy. It is 
just like being in church.' 

" ' Lots of people act well,' answered the 
Miller; ' but very few people talk well, which 
shows that talking is much the more difficult 
thing of the two, and much the finer thing 
also ; ' and he looked sternly across the table 
at his little son, who felt so ashamed of him- 
self that he hung his head down, and grew 
quite scarlet, and began to cry into his tea. 


The Devoted Friend. 

However, he was so young that you must 
excuse him." 

" Is that the end of the story ? " asked the 

" Certainly not," answered the Linnet, "that 
is the beginning." 

" Then you are quite behind the age/' said 
the Water-rat. " Every good story-teller 
nowadays starts with the end, and then 
goes on to the beginning, and concludes with 
the middle. That is the new method. I 
heard all about it the other day from a critic 
who was walking round the pond with a 
young man. He spoke of the matter at 
great length, and I am sure he must have 
been right, for he had blue spectacles and 
a bald head, and whenever the young man 
made any remark, he always answered 
' Pooh ! ' But pray go on with your story. 
I like the Miller immensely. I have all 
kinds of beautiful sentiments myself, so there 
is a great sympathy between us." 


The Devoted Friend. 

" Well," said the Linnet, hopping now on 
one leg and now on the other, "as soon as 
the winter was over, and the primroses began 
to open their pale yellow stars, the miller said 
to his wife that he would go down and see 
little Hans. 

'"Why, what a good heart you have!' 
cried his Wife ; ' you are always thinking of 
others. And mind you take the big basket 
with you for the flowers.' 

" So the Miller tied the sails of the windmill 
together with a strong iron chain, and went 
down the hill with the basket on his arm. 

" ' Good morning, little Hans,' said the 

" ' Good morning,' said Hans, leaning on 
his spade, and smiling from ear to ear. 

" c And how have you been all the winter ? ' 
said the Miller. 

" ' Well, really,' cried Hans, ' it is very 
good of you to ask, very good indeed. I 
am afraid I had rather a hard time of it, but 


The Devoted Friend. 

now the spring has come, and I am quite 
happy, and all my flowers are doing well.' 

" ' We often talked of you during the 
winter, Hans,' said the Miller, ' and wondered 
how you were getting on.' 

" ' That was kind of you,' said Hans ; ' I 
was half afraid you had forgotten me.' 

" ' Hans, I am surprised at you,' said the 
Miller; 'friendship never forgets. That is 
the wonderful thing about it, but I am afraid 
you don't understand the poetry of life. How 
lovely your primroses are looking, by-the- 

" ' They are certainly very lovely/ said 
Hans, ' and it is a most lucky thing for me 
that I have so many. I am going to bring 
them into the market and sell them to the 
Burgomaster's daughter, and buy back my 
wheelbarrow with the money.' 

" ' Buy back your wheelbarrow ? You 

don't mean to say you have sold it ? What 

a very stupid thing to do ! ' 


The Devoted Friend. 

" ' Well, the fact is,' said Hans, ' that I was 
obliged to. You see the winter was a very 
bad time for me, and I really had no money 
at all to buy bread with. So I first sold the 
silver buttons off my Sunday coat, and then I 
sold my silver chain, and then I sold my big 
pipe, and at last I sold my wheelbarrow. But 
I am going to buy them all back again now.' 

" ' Hans,' said the Miller, ' I will give you 
my wheelbarrow. It is not in very good 
repair ; indeed, one side is gone, and there is 
something wrong with the wheel- spokes ; but 
in spite of that I will give it to you. I know 
it is very generous of me, and a great many 
people would think me extremely foolish for 
parting with it, but I am not like the rest of 
the world. I think that generosity is the 
essence of friendship, and, besides, I have 
got a new wheelbarrow for myself. Yes, 
you may set your mind at ease, I will give 
you my wheelbarrow.' 

"'Well, really, that is generous of you,' 


The Devoted Friend. 

said little Hans, and his funny round face 
glowed all over with pleasure. ' I can easily 
put it in repair, as I have a plank of wood 
in the house.' 

"'A plank of wood!' said the Miller; 
1 why, that is just what I want for the roof of 
my barn. There is a very large hole in it, 
and the corn will all get damp if I don't stop 
it up. How lucky you mentioned it! It is 
quite remarkable how one good action always 
breeds another. I have given you my wheel- 
barrow, and now you are going to give me 
your plank. Of course, the wheelbarrow is 
worth far more than the plank, but true 
friendship never notices things like that. 
Pray get it at once, and I will set to work at 
my barn this very day.' 

" ' Certainly,' cried little Hans, and he ran 
into the shed and dragged the plank out. 

" ' It is not a very big plank,' said the 
Miller, looking at it ; ' and I am afraid that 
after I have mended my barn-roof there 


The Devoted Friend. 

won't be any left for you to mend the wheel- 
barrow with ; but, of course, that is not my 
fault. And now, as I have given you my 
wheelbarrow, I am sure you would like to 
o^ive me some flowers in return. Here is 
the basket, and mind you fill it quite full.' 

' ;< Quite full?' said little Hans, rather 
sorrowfully, for it was really a very big 
basket, and he knew that if he filled it he 
would have no flowers left for the market, 
and he was very anxious to get his silver 
buttons back. 

"' Well, really,' answered the Miller, 'as I 
have given you my wheelbarrow, I don't 
think that it is much to ask you for a few 
flowers. I may be wrong, but I should have 
thought that friendship, true friendship, was 
quite free from selfishness of any kind.' 

" ! My dear friend, my best friend,' cried 
little Hans, 'you are welcome to all the 
flowers in my garden. I would much sooner 

have your good opinion than my silver 


The Devoted Friend. 

buttons, any day ;' and he ran and plucked 
all his pretty primroses, and filled the Miller's 

Ui Good-bye, little Hans/ said the Miller, 
as he went up the hill with the plank on his 
shoulder, and the big basket in his hand. 

" ' Good-bye,' said little Hans, and he 
began to dig away quite merrily, he was 
so pleased about the wheelbarrow. 

" The next day he was nailing up some 
honeysuckle against the porch, when he heard 
the Miller's voice calling to him from the 
road. So he jumped off the ladder, and 
ran down the garden, and looked over the 

" There was the Miller with a large sack 
of flour on his back. 

" ' Dear little Hans,' said the Miller, 'would 
you mind carrying this sack of flour for me 
to market ? ' 

" ' Oh, I am so sorry,' said Hans, ' but I 
am really very busy to-day. I have got all 

73 l 

The Devoted Friend. 

my creepers to nail up, and all my flowers 
to water, and all my grass to roll.' 

"'Well, really,' said the Miller, <I think 
that, considering that I am going to give 
you my wheelbarrow, it is rather unfriendly 
of you to refuse.' 

"'Oh, don't say that/ cried little Hans, 
1 1 wouldn't be unfriendly for the whole 
world ; ' and he ran in for his cap, and trudged 
off with the big sack on his shoulders. 

"It was a very hot day, and the road was 
terribly dusty, and before Hans had reached 
the sixth milestone he was so tired that he 
had to sit down and rest. However, he 
went on bravely, and at last he reached the 
market. After he had waited there some 
time, he sold the sack of flour for a very 
good price, and then he returned home at 
once, for he was afraid that if he stopped too 
late he might meet some robbers on the way. 

" ' It has certainly been a hard day,' said 
little Hans to himself as he was going to 


The Devoted Friend. 

bed, 'but I am glad I did not refuse the 
Miller, for he is my best friend, and, besides, 
he is going to give me his wheelbarrow.' 

" Early the next morning the Miller came 
down to get the money for his sack of flour, 
but little Hans was so tired that he was still 
in bed. 

"'Upon my word,' said the Miller, 'you 
are very lazy. Really, considering that I 
am going to give you my wheelbarrow, I 
think you might work harder. Idleness is 
a great sin, and I certainly don't like any of 
my friends to be idle or sluggish. You must 
not mind my speaking quite plainly to you. 
Of course I should not dream of doing so if 
I were not your friend. But what is the 
good of friendship if one cannot say exactly 
what one means ? Anybody can say charm- 
ing things and try to please and to flatter, 
but a true friend always says unpleasant 
things, and does not mind giving pain. 
Indeed, if he is a really true friend he 


The Devoted Friend. 

prefers it, for he knows that then he is doing 

" ' I am very sorry/ said little Hans, 
rubbing his eyes and pulling off his night- 
cap, 'but I was so tired that I thought I 
would lie in bed for a little time, and listen 
to the birds singing. Do you know that I 
always work better after hearing the birds 
sing ? ' 

" * Well, I am glad of that,' said the Miller, 
clapping little Hans on the back, 'for I want 
you to come up to the mill as soon as you 
are dressed, and mend my barn-roof for me/ 

" Poor little Hans was very anxious to go 
and work in his garden, for his flowers had 
not been watered for two days, but he 
did not like to refuse the Miller, as he was 
such a good friend to him. 

" ' Do you think it would be unfriendly of 
me if I said I was busy ? ' he inquired in a 
shy and timid voice. 

" ' Well, really/ answered the Miller, ' I 

The Devoted Friend. 

do not think it is much to ask of you, con- 
sidering that I am going to give you my 
wheelbarrow ; but of course if you refuse I 
will go and do it myself.' 

" ' Oh ! on no account/ cried little Hans ; 
and he jumped out of bed, and dressed him- 
self, and went up to the barn. 

" He worked there all day long, till sunset, 
and at sunset the Miller came to see how 
he was getting on. 

" ' Have you mended the hole in the roof 
yet, little Hans ? ' cried the Miller in a cheery 

" ' It is quite mended,' answered little 
Hans, coming down the ladder. 

" ' Ah !' said the Miller, 'there is no work 
so delightful as the work one does for others.' 

" ' It is certainly a great privilege to hear 
you talk/ answered little Hans, sitting down 
and wiping his forehead, ' a very great 
privilege. But I am afraid I shall never have 
such beautiful ideas as you have.' 


The Devoted Friend. 

" ' Oh ! they will come to you,' said the 
Miller, 'but you must take more pains. At 
present you have only the practice of friend- 
ship ; some day you will have the theory 

" ' Do you really think I shall ? ' asked 
little Hans. 

" I have no doubt of it,' answered the 
Miller; 'but now that you have mended the 
roof, you had better go home and rest, for I 
want you to drive my sheep to the mountain 

" Poor little Hans was afraid to say 
anything to this, and early the next morning 
the Miller brought his sheep round to the cot- 
tage, and Hans started off with them to the 
mountain. It took him the whole day to 
get there and back ; and when he returned 
he was so tired that he went off to sleep in 
his chair, and did not wake up till it was 
broad daylight. 

" * What a delightful time I shall have in 


The Devoted Friend. 

my garden,' he said, and he went to work at 

" But somehow he was never able to look 
after his flowers at all, for his friend the 
Miller was always coming round and sending 
him off on long errands, or getting him to 
help at the mill. Little Hans was very much 
distressed at times, as he was afraid his 
flowers would think he had forgotten them, 
but he consoled himself by the reflection that 
the Miller was his best friend. ' Besides,' 
he used to say, 'he is going to give me 
his wheelbarrow, and that is an act of pure 

"So little Hans worked away for the 
Miller, and the Miller said all kinds of beau- 
tiful things about friendship, which Hans 
took down in a note-book, and used to 
read over at night, for he was a very good 

" Now it happened that one evening little 
Hans was sitting by his fireside when a loud 


The Devoted Friend. 

rap came at the door. It was a very wild 
night, and the wind was blowing and roaring 
round the house so terribly that at first he 
thought it was merely the storm. But a 
second rap came, and then a third, louder 
than either of the others. 

" ' It is some poor traveller,' said little Hans 
to himself, and he ran to the door. 

" There stood the Miller with a lantern in 
one hand and a big stick in the other. 

" ' Dear little Hans,' cried the Miller, ' I am 
in great trouble. My little boy has fallen off 
a ladder and hurt himself, and I am going for 
the Doctor. But he lives so far away, and it 
is such a bad night, that it has just occurred 
to me that it would be much better if you 
went instead of me. You know I am 
going to give you my wheelbarrow, and so 
it is only fair that you should do something 
for me in return/ 

" ' Certainly,' cried little Hans, ' I take it 

quite as a compliment your coming to me. 


The Devoted Friend. 

and I will start off at once. But you must 
lend me your lantern, as the night is so dark 
that I am afraid I might fall into the ditch.' 

" ' I am very sorry,' answered the Miller, 
' but it is my new lantern, and it would 
be a great loss to me if anything happened 
to it' 

"'Well, never mind, I will do without it,' 
cried little Hans, and he took down his great 
fur coat, and his warm scarlet cap, and tied a 
muffler round his throat, and started off. 

"What a dreadful storm it was ! The night 
was so black that little Hans could hardly 
see, and the wind was so strong that he could 
scarcely stand. However, he was very 
courageous, and after he had been walking 
about three hours, he arrived at the Doctor's 
house, and knocked at the door. 

" ' Who is there ? ' cried the Doctor, putting 
his head out of his bedroom window. 

" ' Little Hans, Doctor.' 

" ' What do vou want, little Hans ?' 

8l M 

The Devoted Friend. 

" ■ The Miller's son has fallen from a ladder, 
and has hurt himself, and the Miller wants 
you to come at once.' 

"'All right!' said the Doctor; and he 
ordered his horse, and his big boots, and his 
lantern, and came downstairs, and rode off 
in the direction of the Miller's house, little 
Hans trudging behind him. 

" But the storm grew worse and worse, and 
the rain fell in torrents, and little Hans could 
not see where he was going, or keep up with 
the horse. At last he lost his way, and wan- 
dered off on the moor, which was a very 
dangerous place, as it was full of deep holes, 
and there poor little Hans was drowned. 
His body was found the next day by some 
goatherds, floating in a great pool of water, 
and was brought back by them to the cottage. 
" Everybody went to little Hans's funeral, 
as he was so popular, and the Miller was the 
chief mourner. 

" ' As I was his best friend,' said the Miller, 


The Devoted Friend. 

4 it is only fair that I should have the best 
place ; ' so he walked at the head of the pro- 
cession in a long black cloak, and every now 
and then he wiped his eyes with a big pocket- 

11 ' Little Hans is certainly a great loss to 
every one,' said the Blacksmith, when the 
funeral was over, and they were all seated 
comfortably in the inn, drinking spiced wine 
and eating sweet cakes. 

" ' A great loss to me at any rate,' answered 
the Miller; 'why, I had as good as given 
him my wheelbarrow, and now I really don't 
know what to do with it. It is very much in 
my way at home, and it is in such bad repair 
that I could not get anything for it if I sold it. 
I will certainly take care not to give away 
anything again. One always suffers for being 
generous.' " 

"Well?" said the Water-rat, after a long 

" Well, that is the end," said the Linnet. 

The Devoted Friend. 

" But what became of the Miller?" asked 
the Water-rat. 

" Oh ! I really don't know," replied the 
Linnet ; " and I am sure that I don't care." 

" It is quite evident then that you have no 
sympathy in your nature," said the Water-rat. 

" I am afraid you don't quite see the moral 
of the story," remarked the Linnet. 

" The what ? " screamed the Water-rat. 

'« The moral." 

" Do you mean to say that the story has a 

" Certainly," said the Linnet. 

" Well, really," said the Water-rat, in a very 
angry manner, " I think you should have told 
me that before you began. If you had done 
so, I certainly would not have listened to you ; 
in fact, I should have said ' Pooh,' like the 
critic. However, I can say it now;" so he 
shouted out " Pooh " at the top of his voice, 
gave a whisk with his tail, and went back 

into his hole. 


The Devoted Friend. 

" And how do you like the Water-rat ? " 
asked the Duck, who came paddling up some 
minutes afterwards. "He has a great many 
good points, but for my own part I have a 
mother's feelings, and I can never look at a 
confirmed bachelor without the tears coming 
into my eyes." 

" I am rather afraid that I have annoyed 
him," answered the Linnet. " The fact is, that 
I told him a story with a moral." 

" Ah ! that is always a very dangerous 
thing to do," said the Duck. 

And I quite agree with her. 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

The Remarkable Rccket. 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

^HE King's son was going to be married, 
so there were general rejoicings. He 
had waited a whole year for his bride, and at 
last she had arrived. She was a Russian 
Princess, and had driven all the way from 
Finland in a sledge drawn by six reindeer. 
The sledge was shaped like a great golden 
swan, and between the swan's wings lay the 
little Princess herself. Her long ermine 
cloak reached right down to her feet, on her 
head was a tiny cap of silver tissue, and she 
was as pale as the Snow Palace in which she 

had always lived. So pale was she that as 



The Re7narkable Rocket. 

she drove through the streets all the people 
wondered. " She is like a white rose ! " they 
cried, and they threw down flowers on her 
from the balconies. 

At the gate of the Castle the Prince was 
waiting to receive her. He had dreamy 
violet eyes, and his hair was like fine gold. 
When he saw her he sank upon one knee, 
and kissed her hand. 

" Your picture was beautiful," he mur- 
mured, " but you are more beautiful than your 
picture;" and the little Princess blushed. 

"She was like a white rose before," said a 
young Page to his neighbour, " but she is 
like a red rose now;" and the whole Court 
was delighted. 

For the next three days everybody went 

about saying, " White rose, Red rose, Red 

rose, White rose ; " and the King gave orders 

that the Page's salary was to be doubled. 

As he received no salary at all this was not 

of much use to him, but it was considered a 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

great honour, and was duly published in the 
Court Gazette. 

When the three days were over the 
marriage was celebrated. It was a mag- 
nificent ceremony, and the bride and bride- 
groom walked hand in hand under a canopy of 
purple velvet embroidered with little pearls. 
Then there was a State Banquet, which 
lasted for five hours. The Prince and 
Princess sat at the top of the Great Hall 
and drank out of a cup of clear crystal. 
Only true lovers could drink out of this cup, 
for if false lips touched it, it grew grey and 
dull and cloudy. 

"It is quite clear that they love each 
other," said the little Page, "as clear as 
crystal ! " and the King doubled his salary 
a second time. " What an honour ! " cried all 
the courtiers. 

After the banquet there was to be a Ball. 
The bride and bridegroom were to dance 
the Rose-dance together, and the King had 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

promised to play the flute. He played very 
badly, but no one had ever dared to tell him 
so, because he was the King. Indeed, he 
only knew two airs, and was never quite 
certain which one he was playing ; but it 
made no matter, for, whatever he did, every- 
body cried out, " Charming ! charming ! " 

The last item on the programme was a 
grand display of fireworks, to be let off 
exactly at midnight. The little Princess had 
never seen a firew r ork in her life, so the King 
had given orders that the Royal Pyrotechnist 
should be in attendance on the day of her 

" What are fireworks like ? " she had asked 
the Prince, one morning, as she was walking 
on the terrace. 

" They are like the Aurora Borealis," said 

the King, who always answered questions that 

were addressed to other people, "only much 

more natural. I prefer them to stars myself, 

as you always know when they are going to 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

appear, and they are as delightful as my own 
flute-playing. You must certainly see them." 

So at the end of the King's garden a great 
stand had been set up, and as soon as the 
Royal Pyrotechnist had put everything in its 
proper place, the fireworks began to talk to 
each other. 

" The world is certainly very beautiful," 
cried a little Squib. " Just look at those yellow 
tulips. Why ! if they were real crackers they 
could not be lovelier. I am very glad I have 
travelled. Travel improves the mind wonder- 
fully, and does away with all one's prejudices." 

" The King's garden is not the world, you 
foolish squib," said a big Roman Candle ; 
" the world is an enormous place, and it would 
take you three days to see it thoroughly." 

"Any place you love is the world to you," 
exclaimed a pensive Catharine Wheel, who 
had been attached to an old deal box in early 
life, and prided herself on her broken heart ; 
" but love is not fashionable any more, the 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

poets have killed it. They wrote so much 
about it that nobody believed them, and I am 
not surprised. True love suffers, and is silent. 

I remember myself once But it is no 

matter now. Romance is a thing of the 

" Nonsense ! " said the Roman Candle, 
" Romance never dies. It is like the moon, 
and lives for ever. The bride and bride- 
groom, for instance, love each other very 
dearly. I heard all about them this morning 
from a brown-paper cartridge, who happened 
to be staying in the same drawer as myself, 
and knew the latest Court news." 

But the Catharine Wheel shook her head. 
" Romance is dead, Romance is dead, 
Romance is dead," she murmured. She 
was one of those people who think that, if 
you say the same thing over and over a 
great many times, it becomes true in the end. 

Suddenly, a sharp, dry cough was heard, 
and they all looked round. 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

It came from a tall, supercilious-looking 
Rocket, who was tied to the end of a long 
stick. He always coughed before he made 
any observation, so as to attract attention. 

" Ahem ! ahem ! " he said, and everybody 
listened except the poor Catharine Wheel, 
who was still shaking her head, and murmur- 
ing, " Romance is dead." 

" Order ! order ! " cried out a Cracker. He 
was something of a politician, and had always 
taken a prominent part in the local elections, 
so he knew the proper Parliamentary ex- 
pressions to use. 

" Quite dead/' whispered the Catharine 
Wheel, and she went off to sleep. 

As soon as there was perfect silence, the 
Rocket coughed a third time and began. He 
spoke with a very slow, distinct voice, as if 
he was dictating his memoirs, and always 
looked over the shoulder of the person to 
whom he was talking. In fact, he had a most 
distinguished manner. 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

" How fortunate it is for the King's son," 
he remarked, "that he is to be married on 
the very day on which I am to be let off. 
Really, if it had been arranged beforehand, it 
could not have turned out better for him ; but 
Princes are always lucky." 

"Dear me!" said the little Squib, "I 
thought it was quite the other way, and 
that we were to be let off in the Prince's 

" It may be so with you," he answered ; 

"indeed, I have no doubt that it is, but with 

me it is different. I am a very remarkable 

Rocket, and come of remarkable parents. My 

mother was the most celebrated Catharine 

Wheel of her day, and was renowned for her 

Graceful dancing. When she made her oreat 

public appearance she spun round nineteen 

times before she went out, and each time that 

she did so she threw into the air seven pink 

stars. She was three feet and a half in 

diameter, and made of the very best gun- 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

powder. My father was a Rocket like myself, 
and of French extraction. He flew so high 
that the people were afraid that he would 
never come down again. He did, though, 
for he was of a kindly disposition, and he 
made a most brilliant descent in a shower 
of golden rain. The newspapers wrote about 
his performance in very flattering terms. 
Indeed, the Court Gazette called him a 
triumph of Pylotechnic art." 

" Pyrotechnic, Pyrotechnic, you mean," 
said a Bengal Light; "I know it is Pyro- 
technic, for I saw it written on my own 

"Well, I said Pylotechnic," answered 
the Rocket, in a severe tone of voice, and 
the Bengal Light felt so crushed that he 
began at once to bully the little squibs, in 
order to show that he was still a person of 
some importance. 

" I was saying," continued the Rocket, " I 

was saying What was I saying ? " 

97 o 

The Remarkable Rocket. 

" You were talking about yourself," replied 
the Roman Candle. 

" Of course ; I knew I was discussing some 
interesting subject when I was so rudely 
interrupted. I hate rudeness and bad 
manners of every kind, for I am extremely 
sensitive. No one in the whole world is so 
sensitive as I am, I am quite sure of that." 

" What is a sensitive person ? " said the 
Cracker to the Roman Candle. 

" A person who, because he has corns 
himself, always treads on other people's 
toes," answered the Roman Candle in a low 
whisper; and the Cracker nearly exploded 
with laughter. 

" Pray, what are you laughing at ? " in- 
quired the Rocket; " I am not laughing/' 

" I am laughing because I am happy," 
replied the Cracker. 

" That is a very selfish reason/' said the 
Rocket angrily. " What right have you to 
be happy ? You should be thinking about 

The Remarkable Rocket. 

others. In fact, you should be thinking about 
me. I am always thinking about myself, and 
I expect everybody else to do the same. 
That is what is called sympathy. It is a 
beautiful virtue, and I possess it in a high 
degree. Suppose, for instance, anything 
happened to me to-night, what a misfortune 
that would be for every one ! The Prince 
and Princess would never be happy again, 
their whole married life would be spoiled ; 
and as for the King, I know he would not 
get over it. Really, when I begin to reflect 
on the importance of my position, I am 
almost moved to tears. " 

"If you want to give pleasure to others," 
cried the Roman Candle, "you had better 
keep yourself dry." 

"Certainly," exclaimed the Bengal Light, 
who was now in better spirits; "that is only 
common sense." 

" Common sense, indeed ! " said the Rocket 
indignantly; " you forget that I am very 


The Remarkable Rocket, 

uncommon, and very remarkable. Why, any- 
body can have common sense, provided that 
they have no imagination. But I have 
imagination, for I never think of things as 
they really are ; I always think of them as 
being quite different. As for keeping myself 
dry, there is evidently no one here who can 
at all appreciate an emotional nature. For- 
tunately for myself, I don't care. The only 
thing that sustains one through life is the 
consciousness of the immense inferiority of 
everybody else, and this is a feeling that I 
have always cultivated. But none of you 
have any hearts. Here you are laughing 
and making merry just as if the Prince and 
Princess had not just been married." 

"Well, really," exclaimed a small Fire- 
balloon, "why not? It is a most joyful 
occasion, and when I soar up into the air I 
intend to tell the stars all about it. You 
will see them twinkle when I talk to them 
about the pretty bride." 


The Remarkable Rocket, 

" Ah ! what a trivial view of life ! " said the 
Rocket ; " but it is only what I expected. 
There is nothing in you ; you are hollow and 
empty. Why, perhaps the Prince and Princess 
may go to live in a country where there is a 
deep river, and perhaps they may have one 
only son, a little fair-haired boy with violet 
eyes like the Prince himself; and perhaps 
some day he may go out to walk with his 
nurse ; and perhaps the nurse may go to sleep 
under a great elder-tree ; and perhaps the 
little boy may fall into the deep river and be 
drowned. What a terrible misfortune ! Poor 
people, to lose their only son ! It is really 
too dreadful ! I shall never get over it." 

" But they have not lost their only son," 
said the Roman Candle ; " no misfortune has 
happened to them at all." 

" I never said that they had," replied the 
Rocket ; " I said that they might. If they 
had lost their only son there would be no use 
in saying anything more about the matter. 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

I hate people who cry over spilt milk. But 
when I think that they might lose their only 
son, I certainly am very much affected." 

" You certainly are!" cried the Bengal 
Light. " In fact, you are the most affected 
person I ever met." 

" You are the rudest person I ever met," 
said the Rocket, " and you cannot understand 
my friendship for the Prince." 

"Why, you don't even know him," 
growled the Roman Candle. 

" I never said I knew him," answered the 
Rocket. " I dare say that if I knew him 
I should not be his friend at all. It is 
a very dangerous thing to know one's 

"You had really better keep yourself 
dry," said the Fire-balloon. "That is the 
important thing." 

" Very important for you, I have no doubt," 
answered the Rocket, " but I shall weep if I 
choose ; " and he actually burst into real 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

tears, which flowed down his stick like rain- 
drops, and nearly drowned two little beetles, 
who were just thinking of setting up house 
together, and were looking for a nice dry 
spot to live in. 

" He must have a truly romantic nature," 
said the Catharine Wheel, " for he weeps 
when there is nothing at all to weep about ; " 
and she heaved a deep sigh, and thought 
about the deal box. 

But the Roman Candle and the Bengal 
Light were quite indignant, and kept saying, 
" Humbug ! humbug ! " at the top of their 
voices. They were extremely practical, and 
whenever they objected to anything they 
called it humbug. 

Then the moon rose like a wonderful silver 
shield ; and the stars began to shine, and a 
sound of music came from the palace. 

The Prince and Princess were leading the 
dance. They danced so beautifully that the 

tall white lilies peeped in at the window and 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

watched them, and the great red poppies 
nodded their heads and beat time. 

Then ten o'clock struck, and then eleven, 
and then twelve, and at the last stroke of 
midnight every one came out on the 
terrace, and the King sent for the Royal 

" Let the fireworks begin," said the King ; 
and the Royal Pyrotechnist made a low bow, 
and marched down to the end of the garden. 
He had six attendants with him, each of 
whom carried a lighted torch at the end of a 
long pole. 

It was certainly a magnificent display. 

Whizz ! Whizz ! went the Catharine Wheel, 

as she spun round and round. Boom! 

Boom ! went the Roman Candle. Then the 

Squibs danced all over the place, and the 

Bengal Lights made everything look scarlet. 

" Good-bye," cried the Fire-balloon, as he 

soared away dropping tiny blue sparks. 

Bang! Bang! answered the Crackers, who 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

were enjoying themselves immensely. Every 
one was a great success except the Remark- 
able Rocket. He was so damp with crying 
that he could not go off at all. The best 
thing in him was the gunpowder, and that 
was so wet with tears that it was of no use. 
All his poor relations, to whom he would 
never speak, except with a sneer, shot up into 
the sky like wonderful golden flowers with 
blossoms of fire. Huzza! Huzza! cried the 
Court ; and the little Princess laughed with 

" I suppose they are reserving me for some 
grand occasion," said the Rocket ; " no doubt 
that is what it means," and he looked more 
supercilious than ever. 

The next day the workmen came to put 
everything tidy. " This is evidently a depu- 
tation," said the Rocket ; " I will receive them 
with becoming dignity : " so he put his nose in 
the air, and began to frown severely as if he 
were thinking about some very important 

The Remarkable Rocket. 

subject. But they took no notice of him at 
all till they were just going away. Then one 
of them caught sight of him. " Hallo!" he 
cried, "what a bad rocket!" and he threw 
him over the wall into the ditch. 

" Bad Rocket ? Bad Rocket ? " he said as 
he whirled through the air; " impossible ! 
Grand Rocket, that is what the man said. 
Bad and Grand sound very much the same, 
indeed they often are the same ; " and he fell 
into the mud. 

" It is not comfortable here," he remarked, 
"but no doubt it is some fashionable water- 
ing-place, and they have sent me away to 
recruit my health. My nerves are certainly 
very much shattered, and I require rest." 

Then a little Frog, with bright jewelled 
eyes, and a green mottled coat, swam up 
to him. 

"A new arrival, I see!" said the Frog. 

"Well, after all there is nothing like mud. 

Give me rainy weather and a ditch, and I am 

1 06 

The Remarkable Rocket. 

quite happy. Do you think it will be a wet 
afternoon ? I am sure I hope so, but the sky 
is quite blue and cloudless. What a pity ! " 

" Ahem ! ahem ! " said the Rocket, and 
he began to cough. 

" What a delightful voice you have !" cried 
the Frog. " Really it is quite like a croak, 
and croaking is of course the most musical 
sound in the world. You will hear our glee- 
club this evening. We sit in the old duck- 
pond close by the farmer's house, and as 
soon as the moon rises we begin. It is so 
entrancing that everybody lies awake to 
listen to us. In fact, it was only yesterday 
that I heard the farmer's wife say to her 
mother that she could not get a wink of 
sleep at night on account of us. It is most 
gratifying to find oneself so popular." 

" Ahem ! ahem!" said the Rocket angrily. 
He was very much annoyed that he could 
not get a word in. 

"A delightful voice, certainly," continued 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

the Frog ; " I hope you will come over to the 
duck-pond. I am off to look for my daughters. 
I have six beautiful daughters, and I am so 
afraid the Pike may meet them. He is a 
perfect monster, and would have no hesita- 
tion in breakfasting off them. Well, good- 
bye : I have enjoyed our conversation very 
much, I assure you." 

" Conversation, indeed ! " said the Rocket. 
" You have talked the whole time yourself. 
That is not conversation." 

"Somebody must listen," answered the 
Frog, "and I like to do all the talking myself. 
It saves time, and prevents arguments." 

" But I like arguments," said the Rocket. 

" I hope not," said the Frog complacently. 

" Arguments are extremely vulgar, for 

everybody in good society holds exactly the 

same opinions. Good-bye a second time ; I 

see my daughters in the distance ; " and the 

little Frog swam away. 

" You are a very irritating person," said the 
1 08 

The Remarkable Rocket. 

Rocket, "and very ill-bred. I hate people 
who talk about themselves, as you do., when 
one wants to talk about oneself, as I do. It 
is what I call selfishness, and selfishness is a 
most detestable thing, especially to any one of 
my temperament, for I am well known for my 
sympathetic nature. In fact, you should take 
example by me, you could not possibly have 
a better model. Now that you have the 
chance you had better avail yourself of it, for 
I am going back to Court almost immediately. 
I am a great favourite at Court ; in fact, the 
Prince and Princess were married yesterday 
in my honour. Of course you know nothing 
of these matters, for you are a provincial." 

" There is no crood talking to him," said a 
Dragon-fly, who was sitting on the top of a 
large brown bulrush ; " no good at all, for he 
has gone away." 

"Well, that is his loss, not mine," answered 

the Rocket. " I am not going to stop talking 

to him merely because he pays no attention. 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

I like hearing myself talk. It is one of my 
greatest pleasures. I often have long conver- 
sations all by myself, and I am so clever that 
sometimes I don't understand a single word 
of what I am saying." 

" Then you should certainly lecture on 
Philosophy," said the Dragon-fly; and he 
spread a pair of lovely gauze wings and 
soared away into the sky. 

" How very silly of him not to stay here ! " 
said the Rocket. " I am sure that he has not 
often got such a chance of improving his 
mind. However, I don't care a bit. Genius 
like mine is sure to be appreciated some day ; " 
and he sank down a little deeper into the 

After some time a large White Duck swam 
up to him. She had yellow legs, and webbed 
feet, and was considered a great beauty on 
account of her waddle. 

" Quack, quack, quack," she said. " What 

a curious shape you are ! May I ask were 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

you born like that, or is it the result of an 
accident ? " 

"It is quite evident that you have always 
lived in the country," answered the Rocket, 
''otherwise you would know who I am. 
However, I excuse your ignorance. It would 
be unfair to expect other people to be as re- 
markable as oneself. You will no doubt be 
surprised to hear that I can fly up into the sky, 
and come down in a shower of golden rain." 

" I don't think much of that," said the 
Duck, "as I cannot see what use it is to any 
one. Now, if you could plough the fields 
like the ox, or draw a cart like the horse, or 
look after the sheep like the collie-dog, that 
would be something." 

" My good creature," cried the Rocket in 

a very haughty tone of voice, " I see that 

you belong to the lower orders. A person 

of my position is never useful. We have 

certain accomplishments, and that is more 

than sufficient. I have no sympathy myself 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

with industry of any kind, least of all with 
such industries as you seem to recommend. 
Indeed, I have always been of opinion that 
hard work is simply the refuge of people who 
have nothing whatever to do." 

"Well, well," said the Duck, who was of 
a very peaceable disposition, and never 
quarrelled with any one, " everybody has 
different tastes. I hope, at any rate, that you 
are going to take up your residence here." 

" Oh ! dear no," cried the Rocket. " I am 
merely a visitor, a distinguished visitor. The 
fact is that I find this place rather tedious. 
There is neither society here, nor solitude. 
In fact, it is essentially suburban. I shall 
probably go back to Court, for I know that I 
am destined to make a sensation in the 

" I had thoughts of entering public life 
once myself," remarked the Duck; "there are 
so many things that need reforming. Indeed, 
I took the chair at a meeting some time ago, 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

and we passed resolutions condemning every- 
thing that we did not like. However, they 
did not seem to have much effect. Now I 
go in for domesticity, and look after my 

" I am made for public life," said the 
Rocket, "and so are all my relations, even 
the humblest of them. Whenever we appear 
we excite great attention. I have not 
actually appeared myself, but when I do so 
it will be a magnificent sight. As for domes- 
ticity, it ages one rapidly, and distracts one's 
mind from higher things." 

" Ah ! the higher things of life, how fine 
they are ! " said the Duck ; " and that reminds 
me how hungry I feel : " and she swam away 
down the stream, saying, " Quack, quack, 

" Come back ! come back ! " screamed the 
Rocket, " I have a great deal to say to you ; " 
but the Duck paid no attention to him. " I 
am glad that she has gone," he said to 

113 Q 

The Remarkable Rocket. 

himself, "she has a decidedly middle-class 
mind ; " and he sank a little deeper still into 
the mud, and began to think about the lone- 
liness of genius, when suddenly two little 
boys in white smocks came running down 
the bank, with a kettle and some faggots. 

" This must be the deputation," said the 
Rocket, and he tried to look very dignified. 

" Hallo ! " cried one of the boys, " look at 
this old stick ! I wonder how it came 
here ; " and he picked the rocket out of the 

"Old Stick!" said the Rocket, "im- 
possible ! Gold Stick, that is what he said. 
Gold Stick is very complimentary. In fact, 
he mistakes me for one of the Court dig- 
nitaries ! " 

" Let us put it into the fire ! " said the other 
boy, " it will help to boil the kettle." 

So they piled the faggots together, and put 

the Rocket on top, and lit the fire. 

"This is magnificent," cried the Rocket, 

The Remarkable Rocket, 

" they are going to let me off in broad day- 
light, so that every one can see me." 

"We will go to sleep now," they said, 
"and when we wake up the kettle will be 
boiled ; " and they lay down on the grass, and 
shut their eyes. 

The Rocket was very damp, so he took a 
long time to burn. At last, however, the fire 
caught him. 

"Now I am going off!" he cried, and he 
made himself very stiff and straight. " I 
know I shall go much higher than the stars, 
much higher than the moon, much higher 
than the sun. In fact, I shall go so high 
that " 

Fizz ! Fizz ! Fizz ! and he went straight 
up into the air. 

" Delightful ! " he cried, " I shall go on 
like this for ever. What a success I am!" 

But nobody saw him. 

Then he began to feel a curious tingling 
sensation all over him. 


The Remarkable Rocket. 

" Now I am going to explode," he cried. 
" I shall set the whole world on fire, and 
make such a noise, that nobody will talk 
about anything else for a whole year." And 
he certainly did explode. Bang ! Bang ! 
Bang ! went the gunpowder, There was no 
doubt about it. 

But nobody heard him, not even the two 
little boys, for they were sound asleep. 

Then all that was left of him was the stick, 
and this fell down on the back of a Goose 
who was taking a walk by the side of the 

"Good heavens!" cried the Goose. "It 
is going to rain sticks ; " and she rushed into 
the water. 

" I knew I should create a great sensation," 
gasped the Rocket, and he went out.